Tanjung Puting National Park
|We visited Tanjung Puting National Park in
April 2008. It did not take long before we realised that the park is
emblematic of the battle for survival of wild places against the misguided
destructive forces of economic imperatives.
Only a short time into our two hour trip up the river from Pangkalan Bun, we heard the sound of a chainsaw on the bank opposite the national park. In disbelief, we saw a huge tree falling and then a troupe of monkeys swung into a nearby tree.
The rangers and other locals, supported by a range of NGO's are doing a wonderful job to protect the precious forest and the orang-utans. But the national park has been degraded by mining, farming, and fires. Outside the national park, forest is being lost to palm oil plantations for food and motor fuel. Paradoxically, the villagers close to the Rimba Lodge earn money from both illegal logging on one side of the river and growing seedlings to repair the forest on the other (national park) side of the river.
The forest is literally abuzz with a diverse range of insects, birds, and animals. It is a wonderful sound by both night and day.
Some 4,000 wild orang-utans live in the park and previously captive orang-utans are being returned to the forest at Camp Leakey and other sites. But the forest is full and there are many more former captives needing a forest home. It takes over one hundred years to restore degraded forest.